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I type this following the buzz of collaboration and engagement around international student support following my second BAISIS and BSA “Supporting international students” conference. At last year’s conference I was formally introduced as the incoming BAISIS Director and this year I’ve been involved in every stage of planning and preparation, ensuring member needs and interests were central to our programme. Where has the last year gone?!

I have found this opportunity exciting throughout: I am delighted to represent colleagues across the education sector, day and boarding, working with international students. BAISIS’ mission is to champion support for international students, and I am grateful to be working so closely and positively with the sector, staff and students that enriched my own experience as a boarding practitioner.

On the first anniversary of my BAISIS Director role, I wanted to reflect on some of the lessons of the last year:

  1. Make time
    There is lots going on! To keep up and engage with as much as possible, managing time sensitively is key. Sometimes the calls/meetings that seem lowest on your priority list, throw up the best and most authentic information and updates. Where you can, make time for it all, and time for the unexpected. Make time to talk too, which leads to my next lesson…
  1. Conversation is key
    This year has really reinforced to me the adage “you don’t know what you don’t know”. I have been lucky to have worked with and been given advice and information from a range of experienced practitioners through the BAISIS member network and experts we work with (thank you). These conversations have been crucial in informing my practice and direction of my personal and professional development, knowledge hunts etc. For BAISIS, conversation with members is also key. We strive to help members in supporting their international students to the highest standard. Doing this relies on an open dialogue so members feel confident in sharing their questions, experiences, and interest areas/needs.
  1. Ask for help
    It takes all sorts. I have found I don’t need to be the expert in everything to resolve member issues, find answers to questions and look out experts with the intelligence and information BAISIS members are interested in. It does help if you can identify when you need help, and then ask for it. There is no shame in recognising what different people can add, and asking for that support (she writes, shushing the whispers of imposter syndrome). Crucially, this is an opportunity to lead by example. I want BAISIS members to come to BAISIS for help, advice, and guidance. Why should I expect others to ask us for help, if we/I don’t do so in turn?
  1. Be brave (travel more)
    The international students at the heart of the work BAISIS does with and for its members are an inspiration. Deciding to access education (academic and emotional/cultural) in a country separate to your family/home network requires a bravery we could all channel more of. This year, I have pushed myself to be braver, inspired by these students. I might not have managed the air miles they have, but in my own way, I think I’ve travelled quite far this year. I aim for this journey, and perhaps some actual journeys, to continue into next year.